Various Artists

Jazzin'

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You won't find any straight-ahead acoustic jazz on Jazzin', a ten-track compilation that JCI assembled in 1990. This collection is strictly for those who like their jazz laced with a lot of funk, rock, or pop. Jazz purists and bop snobs will want to avoid Jazzin', which spans 1975-1989 and ranges from fusion to crossover jazz/NAC and quiet storm music. This uneven CD teaches us an important lesson -- it demonstrates that not all electric jazz is created equal. Some of the fusion offerings are excellent, especially Miles Davis' "Tutu," the Yellowjackets' "Man in the Moon," and guitarist Stanley Jordan's interpretation of the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby." Equally strong is Randy Crawford's sultry "Rio de Janeiro Blue," which isn't fusion, but is a textbook example of expressive quiet storm singing. However, some of the smooth jazz/NAC tracks are weak and forgettable; the worst offenders include Kenny G's "Don't Make Me Wait for Love" and Najee's elevator version of the Anita Baker hit "Sweet Love." There is a world of difference between Jordan's performance and Najee's; while Jordan really digs into "Eleanor Rigby" and seriously interprets the Beatles' classic, Najee's note-for-note cover of "Sweet Love" is bland, gutless, and superficial -- it simply pales in comparison to Anita Baker's original 1986 version. Without a doubt, Jazzin' is a mixed bag. But while the compilation is inconsistent, it does have more ups than downs.

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